Tag Archives: will-o-wisp


Bestiarum Vocabulum: Will-o’-the-Wisp

The Bestiarum Vocabulum is the wizard’s encyclopedia of faerie beasties and mundane crossovers living in the lake and forest near Lita’s castle.



will-o’-the-wisp [wil ə ðə ˈwisp] noun, c.1660; means “Will of the wisp” from the masculine proper name William + wisp, a bundle of straw used as a torch; also will-o-wisp, foolish fire, chir batti, hinkypunk, pixy-light, corpse light.

  1. Denizen of the Clockpunk Wizard world.
  2. A malicious sentient magical creature that lives in fens and marshes. It consolidates the rotting magic from decaying plant and animal matter, and burns the fouled magic with a weak light. It craves living flesh, and a group of will-o’-the-wisps can strip a living animal to the bone within minutes. Wizards and sorceresses can counter a will-o’-the-wisp’s appetite by giving it a small metal object soaked with human magic.
  3. Personages: The hungry sisters in the Murphy (“Wrong”) Swamp on Hurt Isle in Ephraim’s Curious Device.
  4. See “Will o’ the Wisp: Swamp Siren (Part 1)” and “Will o’ the Wisp: Swamp Siren (Part 2)
Will 'o the Wisp

Will ‘o the Wisp: Swamp Siren (Part 2)

A Will 'o the Wisp's Seductive Light

A Will ‘o the Wisp’s Seductive Light

Last time, we put on hip boots and splashed around in the fen near Lita’s castle. We met the swamp’s malevolent siblings, Will and his sister Wisp.

The Will ‘o the Wisps invited us to dinner. Shall we join them and exchange some small talk? Lita must tell Gentle Reader a story about a wizard’s swamp date with these sirens.

Swamp Siren

Wizard Kadmeion, his assistant Sir Bright, and some thick-witted goons had to travel through Murphy Swamp. It’s a bog on floating Hurt Island where everything goes wrong unless the traveler is a pessimist.

Have a Care, Sir Wizard, If a Will 'o the Wisp Asks You to Stay for Dinner

Have a Care, Sir Wizard, If a Will ‘o the Wisp Asks You to Stay for Dinner

During the night, Wisp and her gal pals sang a siren song to lure the doomed wizard and goons into the swamp’s chill water. Guess what was on the girls’ dinner menu? Tasty wizard’s flesh, served tartare and still warm on the bone.

Another Fine Mess

The dangerous spell woke Bright. His half-elf nature provided scant protection from the evil magic, but he still plunged into the knee-deep muddy swamp water and went after the enthralled wizard. Bright’s poor aim with a flung stone missed the siren’s light and instead knocked Kadmeion out cold.

The ravenous Will ‘o the Wisps swarmed, settled onto the wizard and his assistant, and prepared to feast. Bright was a mage still coming into his magical powers, and had just one desperate way to get them out of this mess.

We’re Late

So sorry Lita is a tease, but we must run now and catch the last airship home. We can stop along the way if Gentle Reader would like to read more about how their adventure began in the Clockpunk Wizard world of Ephraim’s Curious Device.

Will 'o the Wisp

Will ‘o the Wisp: Swamp Siren (Part 1)

Beyond the forest and rim-ward of Lita's castle is a fen.

Beyond the forest and rim-ward of Lita’s castle is a fen.

Beyond the forest and rim-ward of Lita’s castle is a fen. Let’s put on hip boots, splash right in, and meet its resident sirens. Just like mermaids, these girls love wizards to death.

The Will ‘o the Wisp only comes out at night. This fiery little witch has many names: ignis fatuus (“foolish fire”), chir batti, jack o’ lantern, hinkypunk, spook-light, hobby lantern, pixy-light, marsh ghost-light, Luz Mala, friars’ lantern, corpse light, Min Min light, and orb. Let us call her Wisp.

Wisp and her ilk are mischievous and malign. Here are stories travelers have told Lita.

Wisp Left the Traveler at the Edge of a Precipice

Wisp Left the Traveler at the Edge of a Precipice

Follow Me Not

Wisp carried a lantern and guided a late-returning fellow all over the countryside. She took him to the edge of a chasm, leapt across, doused the lamp, and laughed.

Wisp left the man far from home, standing in pitch darkness, at the edge of a precipice.

Blacksmith Will (Wisp’s brother, methinks), made a deal with the Devil and won a piece of glowing pit coal. Will uses it to warm his hands and light the way on desolate walks through the marshes. Wisp’s helpful bro leads wanderers into the swamp and abandons them when they come close to Will’s hell light.

The Curious Follow the Will 'o the Wisp's Path

The Curious Follow the Will ‘o the Wisp’s Path

Graveyard Path

Will and Wisp’s lights are also death omens. Curious nighttime travelers see the siblings’ small flickering flames in graveyards and call them “corpse lights.”

The blue-green flames mark the path of a pending funeral. If Gentle Reader follows the path away from the graveyard, it takes you to the soon-to-be deceased’s home. Usually yours. See? Curiosity killed more than the cat.

Next time, we join this nighttime siren and her brother for dinner. Guess what’s on the menu?